AF Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto

I just love, love, love the flavor of cilantro/ coriander leaves because the vibrant green color and fresh smell instantly transports me to a warmer, tropical clime – utter bliss! Little wonder that when I spotted a container of basil and cilantro pesto at Whole Foods recently – I pounced on it 🙂 It was sooooo bursting with flavor and taste that I wanted to churn out my own ‘allergy-friendly’ version with only the cilantro/coriander being the belle of the ball 🙂

A quick note – cilantro and coriander leaves are just different words for the same herb,Coriandrum sativum. Cilantro is a Spanish word and is widely used in the US but it is referred to as coriander in UK and India. A nutritional side-note – coriander or cilantro contains antooxidants and has medicinal uses too.

If you want to know more about this fragrant herb – I found this short write-up on cilantro/coriander very informative. Growing up in India, one of my fav home projects with mom was gardening and a coriander patch was a must, given the ubiquitous usage of coriander leaves and seeds in Indian cooking. I try to do the same with my little one and if growing your own herbs is something you enjoy, this article on ‘How to grow Coriander (Cilantro)’ is pretty good. So easy and so much cheaper than buying it though coriander leaf bunches are very reasonably priced in South Asian stores ( $1 for 2 bunches of leaves during summer months)

Presenting Allergy Friendly Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto…

  • Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: Approximately 1 – 1.5 cups


  1. Cilantro: 3 cups, packed (just remove the very thick stems)
  2. Olive Oil: ¼ cup
  3. Pumpkin Seeds:  ½ cup
  4. Serrano Chili, finely chopped: 1 (Entirely optional. The tropical country gal in me add 4-5 of these chilies!!! )
  5. Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  6. Garlic cloves, finely chopped: 2
  7. Freshly ground black pepper: 1/4 tsp (use only if not using chilis)
  8. Salt to taste


  1. Spread the pumpkin seeds evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 350 C for 10-12 minutes. The seeds will brown and puff up. Let it cool down for a couple of minutes.
  2. In a food processor, pulse grind the cilantro, pumpkin seeds, chili, garlic and salt until well blended. Add a tablespoon of water to help easy grinding. Add freashly ground black pepper for heat if not using chili
  3. Now add the olive oil slowly and continue grinding till it is well-blended and reaches pesto consistency.
  4. Remove it into a container and add the lemon juice and stir well.
  5. Use as a sauce with pasta, as a spread on toast, to enhance the flavor of sandwiches and more…yummm!

3 thoughts on “AF Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto”

  1. My husband and I love cilantro/coriander! I tried growing it in the garden with all our other herbs a few years ago…went out one morning and something had literally pulled out the entire plant and gone off with it! What animal LOVES coriander that much! Pumpkin seeds/pepitas are hard for me to find that are not peanut/tree nut free (made in a facility that does not process peanut/tree nuts) Would it work without them!

  2. Susan – the deer in our backyard seem to love everything n anything too :-)Managed a small vegetable patch last year but had to totally fence it in!!
    Without pumpkin seeds, the pesto becomes very similar to coriander chutney. If cumin seeds work for you, add 1/4 teaspoon of lightly roasted cumin seeds and grind it all together. Honestly – this version is even more packed with the flavors of cilantro. It works great as a spread on sandwiches. As a pesto – it is much lighter and will work awesome for a summer pasta dish. Add a little extra water and it works as a great dip. In fact, this is the dip I had made for my tempuras 🙂 Add 1/2 a tsp of sugar to ‘simply coriander pesto’ and it enhances the flavors even more. .

  3. hi, it’s funny because whitout knowing i though about the same receipt, except by added coriander seeds in place of Cilantro. What a good – and lighter – idea, thank you!

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